Darfur rebels attack Sudanese troops

KHARTOUM Sat Jun 2, 2012 6:04pm EDT

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KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Rebels in Sudan's Darfur region launched an attack on government troops on Saturday, with both sides claiming to have inflicted heavy casualties.

The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), part of a rebel alliance that wants to topple the government in Khartoum, said it attacked an army camp in Wad Ganja in northeastern Darfur, killing several soldiers, destroying 15 army vehicles and taking several prisoners.

Army spokesman al-Sawarmi Khalid confirmed the attack but said the rebels had been defeated.

"They suffered heavy losses. Twenty-five fighters of the Justice and Equality Movement were killed, 10 of their trucks were destroyed," he said, adding that JEM had earlier attacked a market in the area and stolen goods.

Violence in Darfur, where the United Nations and the African Union maintain a huge joint peacekeeping operation, has subsided since its peak in 2003 and 2004, but rebel and tribal fighting has continued.

Khartoum mobilized troops and allied Arab tribes to quell the rebellion, unleashing a wave of violence that the United Nations and other observers estimate may have killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The International Criminal Court has indicted Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and has issued an arrest warrant for Defense Minister Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein for war crimes in the region.

Khartoum has dismissed the charges as politically motivated and baseless.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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